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International Art and Antiques Fair - Hong Kong – Mai 2012

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre - Hall 5G La Galerie Art Asiatique vous accueille sur le stand C1 Date : 28 au 30 mai 2012 de 11h à 19h

To see the items of the catalogue, click here http://www.art-asiatique.com/en/galeries/theme-24-reve-de-dragon

The dragon, a mythical animal, an emblematic symbol of force and power, has always
fascinated me. In 2012, the year of the dragon, I have decided to pay my tribute to this
fascinating animal through this special exhibition entitled Dream Of The Dragon.
Being profoundly in love with Chinese art for many years ago, I have always been fascinated
by the symbol of the dragon. As a child, I dreamed that I was a dragon warrior, hunting this
powerful animal in their mythical living surrounding so far from where I lived. An unusual
meeting some time ago in Paris with an unusual person made me almost believe that my
fate is related with the dragon. I met a French dragon hunter!
He hunts dragons or rather the symbol of the dragon on furniture and art works that
were the original creations by artists who worked in the most important Parisian furniture
workshops at the end of 19th Century. I was overwhelmed by what I saw. The purpose of
this exhibition is to discover the furniture and art objects coming from the prestigious
Parisian workshops that were active from this period.
Very few works and publications on these works exist nowadays. The original documentation
is secretly guarded by a few private collectors. Some rare examples that came from the
same firms are preciously held in museums such as the Louvre in Paris and the Victoria
and Albert Museum in London. These museums were wise enough to acquire such pieces
before they were rediscovered.
This French dragon hunter, Laurent Vanlian, is the recognized expert in France furniture
and objects from these firms and it is due to him that this exhibition was born. His passion
for the dragon has driven him, for more than 20 years, to bring together original documents
and art works that we are honoured to see here.
Mr. Laurent has given me the immense pleasure by lending me the most rare specimens
from his private collection. I wish to express my gratefulness to him here. The preface to
this exhibition catalogue is written by Alain Cadeo, an old friend of mine and a passionate
writer. I wish to thank him here as well. I hope these few pages will allow you to rediscover
a morsel of the past which too often is forgotten.
Cedric CURIEN

 

‘’Nil humanum a me alienum esse puto’’
“Nothing human can be alien to me”
Terence:185-159 BC
“Every idea, human or divine,
which is rooted in the past,
has foliage for the future.”
Victor Hugo
(Beams and shadows-1839)
Business is always the result of adventure. Adventure feeds our dreams. The object, is
it not from this point on the crystallization of our human encounters? Business was and
always will be capable of capturing the minds of the people and their taste. And if these
tastes develop they can only flourish in a soil containing the grand universal myths. Jung,
didn’t he say, “Man without myth is like a person without roots”?
China, “The Middle Kingdom”, Cathay, the golden age continent was and still is the
closed place of all our fantasies. Its inextricable forest of symbols will find troubling and
unconscious echos within everyone who approaches. From the Romans and the Greeks
to Marco Polo, from the Jesuits to the Parisian haberdasher merchants, from the middle
ages to today, China will not cease to be a mythical land for Europe and in particular,
France.
“The Middle Kingdom” seems to have created an insatiable curiosity, doubled by a
mysterious fascination. In his anthology of classic Chinese poetry, Paul Demiéville
(Gallimard, 1982), gives us probably one of the most important keys when he tells us
“this great people, on one hand the most down to earth and on the other hand the most
subtle...” capable through their poetic nature to reconcile the pragmatism of a Confucius
and the imagination of Taoism.
This desire for freedom instilled by China has been seen since the Renaissance by curiosity
buffs. But, through important objects, earthenware, porcelain, furniture, paintings,
gardens, but also philosophic and religious ideas, it would captivate the french 17th and
18th centuries.
In 1697, Leibniz, mathematician and philosopher, in the foreword of his work Novissima
sinica marvelled “But who would have ever believed that on this globe there would be a
people whose culture, often more refined, would surpass ours, we who thought were on
the summit of urbanity?”
To understand the european impregnation of this far away Paradise the quantity of written
works by the christian missionaries and the jesuits such as Matteo Ricci (1552-1610),
Johann Adam Schall (1592-1666), Martin Martini (1614-1661) must be considered.
Well before them, during the 14th century, there were the stories of Odoric of
Porderone or of Giovanni of Marignoli or even closer to us, those thirty four volumes
published between 1703 and 1776 written by the “Good fathers” and titled “Instructive
and curious letters written by foreign missions”.
The talent of the Parisian haberdasher, “sellers of everything and makers of nothing” as
Diderot called them, in the 18th century was to spread and “embellished” by adapting
chinese objects and furniture to the french taste.
The “Chinoiserie” was born. They spread through the salons of Madame de
Pompadour, of Madame du Barry, and then of Marie Antoinette to become, under the
second empire, a craze of Eugénie and the important people of this world.
The first part of the 19th century would see the keen interest of the public slip away,
as history often requires, towards Egypt and the Orient.
If the second Empire was ruled by big banks and industry, the dandies, postromantics,
and the symbolists felt foreign in this new world, exiled. From Baudelaire to
Mallarmé, from de Nerval to Victor Hugo, for everyone it was all about “flight, only flight!”
The sky-blue and the clouds, invitations to voyage, breeze of the irrational, everything is
done to lead us to ecstasy. The far east returns to haunt the poet’s dreams. Jules and
Edmond de Goncourt, Pierre Loti, Claudel, Proust...The perfume of lotus spread all over
Paris. Exoticism is here!
A certain “intellectual nomadism” and affection needs to feed from unusual forms.
An article written by Baudelaire on the World Fair of 1855 attempts to define this ambiguity
in front of a beauty coming from distant horizons “The beautiful is always strange. I don’t
want to say that it is willingly, coldly strange, because in this case, it would be a monster off
the rails of life. I say that it always contains a little bit of strangeness, a naive strangeness,
unwanted, unconscious and it is this strangeness which make it especially beautiful.”
How can we not recognize here the amazing creations of these master cabinetmakers,
sculptors, goldsmiths, and decorators who tirelessly presented their “Chinoiseries” in the
World Fairs in the second half of the 19th century. The poets, like these artists, all need to
reinvent this “far away”, to feed from “dragons magots” and chimeras.
Gabriel Frederic Viardot (1830-1904), Perret and Vibert and The Bamboos House,
Georges and Henri Pannier and The Crystal Staircase, Beurdeley, Barbedienne, Dai Nippon
all continue the work of the 18th century haberdashers merchants. They are the creators
and promoters of this fantasy around China and thus allows an entire generation to travel
within the magic of symbols.
“To suggest, here is the dream. This is a perfect use of this mystery which
constitutes symbol...” (Mallarmé)
The workshop of these houses became famous, enriched by sculptors and
cabinetmakers, bronze smiths, wood turners and other companions.
Aesthetes and collectors are seduced by the refinement of this Far East adapted
to French taste. The artist composers such as Debussy and Ravel, the writers such as
the Goncourt brothers, J.K. Huysmans, the senior civil servants, the bankers, a Proustian
aristocrat, the actors, all of them have a fascination for this “elsewhere” that we can
transplant into our living rooms and palaces and greenhouses and winter gardens in the
soft light of lanterns, in the shadow of quivering reeds.
Yes, the talent of these creators of furniture and objects happened just at the right
moment to erase a little bit of the detestable image of Europeans considered “civilized”,
having participated in the sad China Expedition.
How can we not understand the importance of the Chinese civilization when reading
Victor Hugo’s letter to Captain Butler on the 25th of November, 1861. The anger of the poet
was immense. “In a corner of the world there was a marvel of the world; this treasure is
called Summer Palace. Two principles comprise art, the idea which produces European
art and the chimera which produces Oriental art. Summer Palace was to chimeric art what
the Parthenon is to ideal art... this wonder has disappeared...”
Since then, to appropriate a little of this destroyed magic through the “Chinoiseries”
is probably also an entrance into the regions of minds conveying a kind of mysterious,
religious poetic.
As the poet-prophets such as Viardot, Perret and Vibert and others workshops had
sensed, it is the eternity of a bewitchment, the mystery of a continent having always hung
over the European soul.
Alain CADEO March 17th, 2012

 Gabriel-Frédéric VIARDOT (Paris, 1830 - Paris, 1904)
Gabriel Viardot began his career as a woodcarver at the age of eleven and four years later
he was appointed the highest position in the workshop of the Jeanselme company which,
at that time, already had one hundred employees.
At 19, he set up his own business and during the same year, at the Horticultural Exhibition,
Gabriel Viardot was rewarded with a bronze medal.
At the World Fair of 1855 in Paris a bronze medal was awarded to him again.
He took advantage of the Chinese and Japanese furniture coming to France and better
adapted them to European tastes and usages, all the while conserving the asian style.
He began to create again in 1870 and at the World Fair of 1878 in Paris, he won a silver
medal, his furniture was a huge success.
Gabriel Viardot perfected his work in the style and gave his furniture a special signature
by employing lacquered relief panels, which were sent to him from China and Japan, as
well as Tonkin inlaid pearls.
He also improved his bronze furniture models which he conceived himself.
In 1884 he was awarded a gold medal in Nice.
He was elected as a member of the jury that same year by the Central Union of Decorative
Arts and again for the 1885 exhibition in Antwerp.
At this time his company employed one hundred workers such as sculptors and
cabinetmakers without counting the twenty people outside of the workshops who took
care of the cutting, molding, wood turning, and bronze. The workshops were led by three
foremen one of which was his assistant for twenty-five years.
Gabriel Viardot had lots of students and many of them established themselves in the
industry and were prosperous; his collaborators were his students, some of whom worked
with him for twenty-seven years.
He was known for his quality and the high refinement of his creations and he quickly
acquired a huge notoriety among a clientele of aesthetes and collectors from the world of
art, finance and senior management.
At the World Fairs of 1889 and 1900 in Paris, Viardot was again awarded a gold medal for
his Japanese furniture.
 

 PERRET et VIBERT Maison des Bambous
In 1872, Ernest Vibert opened the “House of Bamboo” in Paris at 33 rue du Quatre-
Septembre which offered bamboo furniture decorated with lacquer and created exotic
decors adorned with large draperies and old pots.
This firm, also known for its natural rattan creations, offered a large choice of seats and
small furniture (chairs, sofas, deck chairs) made from rattan, bamboo and cane enamelled.
This furniture of great fantasy and harmonious lines was intended to furnish conservatories,
verandas, terraces of town houses and to decorate hotels and the most prestigious yachts.
He participated in major international exhibitions with lots of success, including those
of Paris in 1889, where he presented rattan seats, and in 1900, where he presented fine
lacquered and inlaid bamboo furniture. His work was rewarded by two silver medals.
His influence was then international and he attracted orders from the most extravagant
wealthy sponsors.
After the First World War, Gaston Vibert, son of Ernest Vibert, and his partner Robert Perret
settled at 170 boulevard Haussmann in a luxurious building with rooms in the basement
conceived by Ruhlmann.
Gaston Vibert made long stays in the Far-East from where he brought back Khmer
sculptures, Coromandel screens and ceramic wares from the East India Company.
The three floors of the store were filled with trinkets of ivory, jade, and lacquer directly
imported from the Far- East.
Outside their specialty, the firm of Perret and Vibert offered their customers a wide selection
of furniture and antiques: silks, fabrics, ceramics, and bronzes.
The Perret- Vibert house was frequented by Debussy and Ravel but also writers and
important collectors.
After World War II tastes had changed and gallery director Louis Bidreman proposed
architectural furniture with multiple sliding doors, wooden or black lacquer coffee tables,
as well as animal bronzes.
The gallery Perret- Vibert closed in 1994.

 

BEURDELEY
Beurdeley was one of the largest woodworking art companies of the mid-nineteenth
century.
Three generations followed one another:
- Jean (1772-1853), modest craftsman, settled in Paris under the First Empire and opened
a curiosity shop where he sold fine furniture and art objects purchased or consigned from
the finest craftsmen. Located first at 355 Rue Saint Honore in 1818, his store was then
transferred to 364 in 1820.
Around 1830, he bought the Pavillon de Hanovre at the corner of Rue Louis Legrand and
Boulevard des Italiens.
- Alfred-Louis-Auguste (1808-1882), took over the business from his father in 1840 and
moved the shop and the workshop into the Pavillon de Hanovre
He added a furniture restoration workshop to his business of selling furniture, art objects,
and paintings and this helped to grow the company which his father had started.
He specialized in furniture designs inspired by those of the eighteenth century and
especially of Louis XVI. He quickly became, with quality of his manufacturing, the most
famous cabinetmaker in Paris in his discipline. Among his customers were the Duke of
Nemours, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie. He participated in the World Fairs of
1855 and 1867 where he won a bronze and a gold medal.
-Alfred-Emmanuel-Louis (1847-1919), son of Louis-Auguste-Alfred, he became his assistant
and then his successor in 1875 and kept the shop in Hanover. He maintained the high
reputation of the Pavillon and knew how to give it a new shine through his leadership and
his enlightened taste.
He specialized in the manufacture of luxury furniture, faithfully copied from the beautiful
antique furniture of the Garde-meuble, and excelled in this discipline.
He did not create a lot of original furniture.
He participated in the International Exhibitions of Paris in 1878 and Amsterdam in 1883
where he was awarded a gold medal, and was a member of the jury in Paris in 1889 where
he presented, in a large stand, many pieces of furniture and objects.
He closed his workshop in 1895 and sold his collections.

 

MAISON DE L’ESCALIER DE CRISTAL (1804-1923)
The retail firm L’Escalier de Cristal was founded in 1804 in Paris at the Palais Royal, at 162-
163 Galerie de Valois, by the widow Desarnaud, born Marie-Jeanne Rosalie Charpentier,
who had acquired some fame because she was the first seller to offer clocks, candelabras
and ornamental vases combining cut crystal and gilded bronze.
The name of the firm referred to the crystal balusters of the staircase linking the floors of
the shop and the Valois gallery and indicated the first specialty of the house, cut crystal. By
1830, the firm was taken over by Boin, a tailor and engraver, but he failed to maintain the
reputation.
After a slump, the company returned to the center stage in the 1840s thanks to its new
owner Lahoche Pierre-Isidore (1805-1882), the instigator of the neo-Rococo. In 1852
Lahoche joined his son Emile Augustine Pannier (1828-1892) under the name «Société
Lahoche and Pannier» which became «Pannier Lahoche & Cie» in 1867 when Isidore
Lahoche stopped all professional activity. An intuitive Businessman, Emile Pannier moved
the store in 1872 to the city’s most prosperous neighborhood, l’Opéra, at the corner of rue
Scribe and rue Auber near the Grand Hotel, which was frequented by rich clients avid for
novelties.
The gallery offered a large choice of lamps, clocks and vases dominated by neo-Louis XV
style and Chinese taste. In 1885 Georges (1853-1944) and Henri Pannier (d. 1935), son of
Emile Pannier, founded the company «Pannier Frères et Cie» and embarked on creating
furniture. They worked in collaboration with lacquer artists, bronze smiths, carpenters,
painters and decorators.
Leading designers such as Louis Majorelle, Edward Hare and Gabriel Viardot were
associated with the far eastern creations of L’Escalier de Cristal. Always concerned with the
quality of materials and the refinement of execution, the firm immediately found itself in
the tradition of the most luxurious productions of Parisian cabinetmaking. Their ambition
was to deliberately recreate an imaginary Orient, but along the lines of Western tastes.
L’Escalier de Cristal played the role of merchant-editor, like a smart intermediary between
the manufacturer and the customer such as the 18th century haberdasher. They were
propagators of taste. They participated in all exhibitions of its time and won many medals:
a bronze medal at the World Fair in London in 1851, a silver medal at the exhibition in New
York in 1853 and Paris in 1855, bronze medals at the World Fair in London in 1862, in Paris
in 1867 and 1878 and a gold medal at the Paris World Fair of 1900. L’Escalier de Cristal
closed in 1923.

 

 Ferdinand BARBEDIENNE (1810-1892)
Ferdinand Barbedienne started working at the young age of 12 with Dumas, a wallpaper
manufacturer in Paris.
In 1838 he began a new career as a founder, in association with Achille Collas (1795-
1859), inventor of a process of reproduction of statues on a smaller scale. A year later they
founded the firm “A. Collas and Barbedienne» located at 30 Boulevard Poissonniere which
specialized in reproductions of Greek and Roman antiquities.
In 1859, Collas died leaving Ferdinand Barbedienne as head of the company which became
« F. Barbedienne. »
Present in all the major World’s Fairs of the nineteenth century, the Barbedienne firm won
numerous awards:
- London, 1851, two medals (Council Medals)
- Paris, 1855, an honorary medal and eleven cooperative medals for the work of the
engravers and assemblers. Its shipments included bronze reduction sculptures and
furniture, vases, bowls, candlesticks and other decorative objects as well as pieces in the
Greek Revival style.
- London, 1862, medals in three different classes: art furniture, bronzes and jewelry.
Barbedienne exhibited some enamels called cloisonnés.
- Paris, 1867, ineligible because of membership and his roll as jury recorder. He again
presented the cloisonné enamels, which were highly acclaimed.
- Vienna, 1873, two honorary diplomas, the Medal of Progress and 25 cooperative medals.
-Paris, 1878, grand prize, gold medal, honorary diploma, and 28 cooperative medals.
The successes of the Barbedienne firm during these expositions earned him many
official commissions such as the production, between 1850 and 1854, of Renaissancestyle
furniture for the Hotel de Ville in Paris and 1855 the bronze furnishings for Prince
Napoleon’s Pompeian house and the imperial residences.
Barbedienne surrounded himself with the greatest artists of his time: the enamel-painters
André-Fernand Thesmar (1843-1912) and Alfred Clamp (1837-1906), the sculptor Ferdinand
Levillain (1837-1905), the ornamental sculptor Constant Sevin (1821-1888), who was his
main partner from 1855 until his death in 1888, or the sculptor-decorator Attarge Desire
(circa 1820-1878).
In 1867 Bardedienne was named an officer of the Légion d’Honneur and then commander
in 1878.
After his death in 1892 his nephew and associate, Gustave Leblanc-Barbedienne, succeeded
him as head of the company.
From 1860 to 1890, Barbedienne experimented with new techniques in the field
of champlevé and cloisonné enamels to compete with oriental imports then in vogue.
Following the example of the enamel workshop from the production at Sèvres, Barbedienne
introduced enamel into its manufacture of art objects: «Byzantine» champlevé enamel
(from the late 1850s) and then Neo-Renaissance painted enamels and enamels of far
Eastern influence.
No other company would succeed to such an extent to integrate the use of enamel in an
industrial-scale production.


DAÏ-NIPPON
Dai-Nippon was a French company which made Chinese and Japanese style furniture at
its workshop in Paris using imported materials.
It was created in Paris in 1889; its stores were located at 3 and 5 Boulevard des Capucines
in the 2nd arrondissement near the Opera.
It specialized in fine art and furniture of China and Japan which was imported directly
via the many export outlets: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Yokohama, Kobe and
Nagasaki and then the pieces were reworked in the workshops to suit European tastes like
its competitors and colleagues from the same period Viardot-Perret and Vibert had done.

 

 BACCARAT
In 1764, king Louis XV gave permission to the bishop of Metz, Monseigneur de
Montmorency-Laval (1761-1802), to found a glass workshop in the village of Baccarat, in
the eastern French region of Lorraine.
After the French Revolution, the company began to decline until its bankruptcy in 1806,
when it was auctioned to a merchant of Verdun. The activities of the workshop then
continued with difficulty until 1816.
In 1816, the workshop was purchased by a manufacturer, Aime-Gabriel Artigues (1773-
1848).
On November 15th of the same year the first crystal oven was switched on and more than
300 people worked on the site.
The real start-up date began with its acquisition in 1823 by a wealthy Parisian, Pierre-
Antoine Godard-Desmarest, who entrusted the management of the company to Jean-
Baptiste Toussaint.
Baccarat received its first royal commission in 1823 from King Louis XVIII. This was the
beginning of a long series of commands for royalty and heads of state from around the
world.
In 1855, Baccarat participated in the Paris World Fair where it was rewarded with a gold
medal.
From 1860, Baccarat put its mark on all its products. The crystal production gained a lot of
importance during this period and Baccarat became a world renowned manufacturer of
high quality glasses, candlesticks, vases and perfume bottles.
In 1867, Baccarat participated again at the Paris World Fair and won a gold medal. Japan
was in the spotlight and presented, for the first time, a selection of objects with simple
shapes and decorations, breaking with the prevailing eclecticism, charmed the Europeans.
These objects sparked a craze for Asian art and contributed to the renewal of creation
particularly in the decorative arts which had a great influence on the work of Baccarat
In 1878, Baccarat again won a gold medal at the Paris World Fair. A new technique
appeared in Baccarat, the taille gravure.

 

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